Great Sport Moments: Indiana Upset

February 2013—with :09 remaining, Illinois knocked off the No. 1–ranked Hoosiers

View from the above the hoop of Tyler Griffey sinking a basket with defenders around. Tyler Griffey sinks a basket at the buzzer to knock off the No. 1 ranked Hoosiers. (Image by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
February 2013—with :09 remaining, Illinois knocked off the No. 1–ranked Hoosiers

For a University of Illinois men’s basketball player, beating IU is always a priority.

But when the Hoosiers are ranked No. 1 in the nation, the importance of an Illinois victory skyrockets.

That was the case on Feb. 7, 2013, when Illinois hosted Indiana at the Assembly Hall. The clock read :09 as Illinois star Brandon Paul, ’13 AHS, prepared to inbound the ball. The score was tied 72-72. “It was one of our standard, set plays that had a bunch of different options on it,” recalls forward Tyler Griffey, ’13 AHS.

Following the instructions of first-year Head Coach John Groce, Griffey cut toward the basket.

“That was one of the things I appreciated about Coach Groce, his play calling. It was like a football scheme,” Griffey says.

Left wide open, Griffey caught Paul’s on-target bounce pass and laid the ball in for the victory.

“I wanted to dunk it,” Griffey says. “In mid-air, I realized I didn’t have a lot of time, so I pulled my hands back. Fortunately, that didn’t cause me to slip up.”

Brandon Paul quickly dribbling the ball up the basketball court.

Brandon Paul, who fed the ball to Griffey, went on to a career in the pros. (Image by John Dixon/AP Photo)

Next: pandemonium. Fans stormed the court and celebrated with the players.

“It’s such a cool moment to be able to look back on,” Griffey says.

Griffey, now 33, can’t believe 11 years have passed since the fateful shot. A photographer sent Griffey a picture of the game-winner. It is framed and hangs on the wall in his home office in Phoenix.

“I get asked about it,” says Griffey, who works in sales for World Wide Technology, a global technology service provider.

Props for the timely assist generally go to Paul—who was the team’s leading scorer that season, arrived at Illinois as 2009’s Illinois Mr. Basketball, and now plays professionally for Montenegro. But none of that would have mattered without the second-half play of guard D.J. Richardson, ’13 LAS. The Peoria native scored eight consecutive points during a late 11-1 Illinois run to tie the game 70-70.

“We always had that rivalry against Indiana,” says Richardson, who now lives in Memphis, Tenn. “That game could go any way no matter who was ranked higher.”

Richardson and Hoosiers forward Will Sheehey had words in the tunnel during intermission. “That’s what sparked me for the second half,” Richardson says.

Griffey understands what Richardson did for the team that night. “He made some huge shots down the stretch. I remember one vividly, a step-back three from the wing.”

Richardson led the Illini that night with 23 points. Paul scored 21 and Griffey had 14. They were the only Illini to finish in double figures.